The Quiet Eye and Expertise: Sustained Fixations Do Not Transfer to Unpracticed Throws Among Expert Dart Players

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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The length of the last visual fixation before the critical final phase of a movement—the quiet eye (QE) fixation—is positively correlated with expertise and success. The present study tested the potential for intraskill transfer of QE durations in order to determine whether it is intrinsically linked to expertise development or is a separable skill that may be employed to improve performance under novel circumstances. The authors tracked highly skilled dart throwers’ gazes while they executed familiar (highly practiced) and familiar yet novel (distance/effector-modified) sport-specific actions. QE duration was significantly reduced when performing in unfamiliar conditions, suggesting that QE does not transfer to atypical conditions and may therefore be a result of—rather than a contributor to—expertise development. These results imply that intraskill transfer of QE is limited and, consistent with the inhibition hypothesis of QE development, argue against the value of teaching QE as an independent means of improving performance.

Flindall and Kingstone are with the Dept. of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Sinnett is with the Dept. of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Manoa, HI, USA.

Flindall (jason.flindall@psych.ubc.ca) is corresponding author.
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